Esperando a los árabes. Los visigodos en Hispania (507-711) (Estudios) (Spanish Edition)

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In fact, the brooding figure of Tetsuo became the inspiration behind the filmmaker Tsukamoto Shinya's two avant-garde science fiction films, Tetsuo I and Tetsuo II, both of which were essentially homages to a particularly dark form of body metamorphosis. Clearly, the theme of stubborn adolescent resistance is one that resonates in many corners of global society as Ueno's anecdote concerning Akira in Sarajevo, quoted at the beginning of this book, richly illustrates. Focusing on one of the film's dominant themes, metamorphosis, Akira can be looked at on two levels: For now, the focus will be on a more personal form of destruction and perhaps resurrection , what film scholar Peter Boss calls an "intimate apocalypse," the "sense of disaster being visited at , the level of the body itself.

Akira works remarkably well in this subgenre, for the film's last fifteen minutes or so contain an extraordinary vision of almost unwatchable excess as Tetsuo's mutations become increasingly grotesque.

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T he film's primary subtext is the tension between the two related but contradictory concepts of power and control the English word "control"-or "kontororu," as it is pronounced in Japanese-is used frequently throughout the film , concepts that have deep resonance for the adolescent developing from child to adult. However, by Akira's end, we see the total diminishment of authority as, one by one, the representatives of the establishment admit that they can no longer control what is happening around them; this is seen especially in the body of Tetsuo, who they had hoped to use as an experimental guinea pig.

While the power of authority diminishes, the young man's power grows, but even he is unable to control it in the end. Total bodily transmogrification into a form of Otherness hinted at in the film's ending is the final price Tetsuo has to pay. Before this occurs however, the viewer is treated to or subjected to an awesome spectacle of corporeal mutation that conforms well to Hurley'S general description of what happens to the human subject in body horror: Tetsuo's new powers may also symbolize his development from adolescent into adult, especially since at the film's end he is identified by language rather than image, thus suggesting his entry into the Symbolic order.

T hese transformations begin with Tetsuo losing his arm in a laser attack by a government satellite.

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Unable to stop the mutations of his arm, Tetsuo uses it to engulf the enigmatic military figure known as the Colonel, who has come to take him back to the government laboratory. T he arm goes on to engulf Tetsuo's girlfriend Kaori and his friend Kaneda, although in the case of these two it is uncertain whether this is an attack or a cry for help.

T his uncertainty is based on the fact that, as his mutations continue and begin to take over his whole body, Tetsuo's aspect changes from cocky self confidence "I never knew 1 could have such power! Totally defamiliarized from the wistful adolescent punk he used to be, Tetsuo transforms into a grotesque gigantic infant whose oozing pink flesh seems to overflow the screen.

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His newly infantile physical condition is matched by a return to his emotional dependency on Kaneda. Whereas previously he had triumphantly shouted his independence, crowing to Kaneda, "I don't need your help anymore," in these final scenes of metamorphosis, he cries out again to Kaneda as he had when they were children. Even Kaneda cannot save him, however. He is left alone to acknowledge for the first time his newfound identity in his final statement, "I am Tetsuo.

T he phallic tentacular arm that expands and contracts ultimately seems to lose itself into an oozing feminine pinkness, which in turn becomes a gigantic baby. T his horrifying "birth scene" echoes cinema theorist Barbara Creed's statement that the act of birth is seen as grotesque "because the body's surface is no longer closed, smooth, and intact, rather it looks as if it may tear apart, open out, reveal its innermost depths. Instead, the moist pink oozing mass that eventually becomes the infant can be seen as the as yet unabjected maternal within Tetsuo himself, an orphan who may at last be finding or perhaps "creating" his lost mother.

Given access to the secret depths of the body, and being allowed to see the transgressions of the body's boundaries, the viewer cannot quite look away. The participation of the viewer is important here because, on one level, Tetsuo's transformation may be read in purely cinematic terms as a visual "frenzy of metamorphosis. As film scholar Philip Brophy says of the grotesque transformation scene in the American film T he Beast Within, "[tl he horror is conveyed through torture and agony, of havoc wrought upon a body devoid of control.

But Tetsuo's story is not only a postmodern celebration of spectacle and boundary transgression. It needs also to be read as a deeply ambiguous rite of passage story. Tetsuo's outsider status, his rivalry with Kaneda, and his negative attitude toward authority position him as a classic alienated teenager whose mutations are also visual expressions of his own adolescent angst. Again, Kristeva's notion of abjection, this time in the sociocultural sense of the expulsion from the body politic of what is marginal, outcast, or simply "unclean," is useful here since Tetsuo and his friends and the original mutant subjects are all coded as social excrescences.

This "hole" has many associations with the abject. As a crater from a nuclear bomb it brings up links with death and destruction, unwelcome intrusions into the empty glittering world of Neo Tokyo. Psychoanalytically, the crater may be read in terms of both the vagina and the anus. Coded as the female organ, the crater evokes the dryness and emptiness of atrophy and absence, once again underlining the absence of the maternal throughout the film. Coded as the body orifice associated with excretion, the crater is a metonym for the status of the bikers and the mutants, children and adolescents necessary only as fodder for the industrial and scientific demands of their dystopian world.

In many regards Tetsuo conforms well to Bukatman's description of the outcast mutants of American comic books: They are categorical mistakes of a specific type; they are, in short, adolescents.

Given the generally safe and contained nature of Japanese society, this orgy of destruction is especially interesting. While Tetsuo, in his down-and-out biker identity, is clearly not a "normal" teenager if there are any left in the film's dystopia , it seems likely that his anger and vengefulness may have touched a chord among the viewing public who made the film such a popular hit.

Tetsuo's "accomplishments" come at a cost, however. His powers and the newfound arrogance that come with them alienate his few remaining friends and in the end, like so many of the protagonists of horror films, he is utterly alone, His "intimate apocalypse" has been vengeful not only to others but to his core identity as welL The eye that stares out at the audience at the film's end may suggest a new form of vision but, given the nihilistic events of the film's narrative, it seems reasonable to imagine that the final vision is a cold one, detached from any human concerns, The movie's nihilistic celebration of abjection and finally of extinction suggest no hope for change within the actual fabric of society.

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Both Akira and Ranma play on the motif of the changing adolescent body but while Akira presents the changing body as menacing, Ranma uses it largely for comic effect. To put it another way, Akira is fundamentally apocalyptic, although it participates in the festival mode, while Ranma , although containing episodes of destruction and even elegiac interludes, is largely a celebration of the festival. Both texts feature adolescent protagonists who deal with such classic adolescent issues as isolation, jealousy, and generational conflict,19 constructed around the motif of uncontrollable metamorphoses.

Furthermore, the metamorphoses in Ranma are gendered ones, from male to female or vice versa, which raises issues of sexual identity that Tetsuo's lonely monstrousness only subtextually evokes. For our purposes we will concentrate on the long running animated television series. Since the series went on for many episodes, a slightly different form of analysis is called for than with an epic film such as Akira. Due to the episodic nature of television comedy there is far less emphasis on character development or an overall story line although many might argue that Akira is not nearly as structured as an American science fiction or horror film would be.

What is emphaSized in Ranma are certain comic tropes such as pursuit, mistaken identity, and usually amusing, sometimes poignant, character interaction. Popular in the late s and early s, the series is an imaginative comic romance that plays with gender mis identification through a fantasized form of transsexuality. T hey are uncomfortably aware of a threatening destabilization of social boundaries without necessarily understanding the reasons for their own discomfort.

Akira plays with boundaries in order to break them, but Ranma plays with them to a different, ultimately conservative, effect. While boundaries are crossed and re-crossed to often riotous effect, the inevitably more conservative format of a weekly television series ultimately leads to a conservative resolution in which, at the end of each episode, the boundaries are reinscribed into the conventions of heterosexual hierarchical society. Ranma operates on at least two levels: At times the very wildness and unexpectedness of the comedy can lead to moments of liberating self-knowledge on the part of its protagonists.

At other times, however, the series seems to be more in-line with such Western gender bending comedies as Some Like It Hot or I Was A Male War Bride in which gender crossing is held up only as an amusing performance that temporarily disturbs but never actually unsettles society's basic assumptions about the genders. In the case of Ranma , it is the hero who is the "alien," but his marginalization is of a very different sort than that of Tetsuo.

Ranma is simply a regular high school boy who falls into a magic spring while practicing martial arts with his father. The magic of the spring causes him to turns into a girl when touched by cold water and to return to male form when touched by warm water. Saotome, is also magically cursed by falling into a spring that turns him into a giant panda, a condition that is also alleviated with hot water.

It is important to note, however, that Mr. Saotome's panda guise causes little consternation. It is Ranma's gender transformation that is the key narrative impetus in the series. Like Ranma, she too is a brilliantly gifted martial artist, but she is also a tomboy who insists that she hates boys, although they constantly flock to her beauty.


The opening episode of Ranma is worth looking at in some detail as it displays some of the most prominent tropes and tensions maintained throughout the series. In the opening scene the "camera" follows what appears to be a young girl in Chinese dress and pigtails as she argues with a giant panda while they walk down a rainy street. As agitated onlookers scatter, the panda picks up the girl and slings her over his shoulder.

The action cuts to the Tendo's Japanese style house complete with a traditional pond. They are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their father's old martial arts companion, Mr. Saotome, and his son Ranma. Tendo tells his daughters that he hopes that Ranma might choose one of them to marry and thus carry on the "Tendo family tradition. As they talk, the doors open and the giant panda and Chinese girl appear, much to everyone's consternation. T he girl announces that she is Ranma and Mr.

Tendo, choosing to believe that "she" is a boy, folds her in a close embrace only to become uncomfortably aware that "he" has breasts. His daughters laugh sardonically and one of them, poking Ranma's breasts, asks "Don't you know the difference between a boy and a girl, Daddy? Akane, who is at first pleased that Ranma is a girl and suggests that they be friends, is the first to discover Ranma's duality. She goes into the family bath only to discover Ranma, who has been changed back into boy form by the bath's hot water.

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Ranma explains the story of his and his father's change but the girls are more amused than sympathetic. Akane's older sisters laughingly suggest that "Akane would be the wisest choice [for marriagel since she hates boys. He points out that, "You took a pretty good look at me [while I was nakedl.

And anyway, it's no big deal to see a naked girl since I see myself plenty of times, and I'm better built to boot. The two stalk off in silence and go to complain to their respective family members. What is anticipated to be a traditional reunion among old friends becomes a bizarre and disturbing event. Taking a bath leads to a frightening and unexpected encounter. Like the Shakespearean comedies and many others up until recently, the comic and fantastic nature of the plot, while thoroughly enjoyable on the surface, is also one that serves to hide or displace some important and serious issues of power and identity.

Thus, the comic high points of this opening episode are often predicated on a variety of tensions around which the series revolves.